Many families and other caregivers live with the challenge of supporting individuals dually diagnosed with mental illness and intellectual disabilities. It is estimated that approximately 30-35 percent of those with intellectual disabilities also experience a psychiatric disorder. Living with this dual diagnosis is often a challenge because of the limited resources and expertise available to support the individual and their families. Far too often mental health challenges experienced by individuals with intellectual disabilities are overlooked, attributed to their disability or simply ignored. Even when an individual with intellectual disabilities is diagnosed with a mental health condition, often they go untreated due to the lack of expertise available or the belief that standard treatments are not beneficial. I know from experience the heartache of not being able to find the help and support someone you love needs when living with this dual diagnosis.
Recently, I have become involved with an organization that is providing some much-needed help and hope. The National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD), an association for persons with developmental disabilities and mental health needs, offers a wealth of information and resources for professionals, families and other care providers. NADD’s mission is “to advance mental wellness for persons with developmental disabilities through the promotion of excellence in mental health care.”
NADD provides educational resources, offers various trainings and conducts conferences around the country. Much to my surprise, NADD has been in existence since 1983 and has done much to “bridge the gap” between mental health systems and systems serving those with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Visit their website to learn more.